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John McCain

Alternative meanings: John S. McCain, Sr., John S. McCain, Jr.
John McCain

John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) is an American politician. Considered a maverick Republican, McCain has been a U.S. Senator from Arizona since 1987, winning re-election in 1992, 1998, and 2004. He was a presidential candidate in the 2000 election, but was defeated in the Republican primaries by then-Texas Governor and now President George W. Bush.


Early life

McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, the son and grandson of prominent U.S. Navy admirals (John S. McCain, Sr. and John S. McCain, Jr.). He attended Episcopal High School and graduated in 1954. McCain then followed in his fathers' footsteps to the United States Naval Academy in 1958.


President Richard Nixon, left, greets the released John McCain, right, on crutches.
President Richard Nixon, left, greets the released John McCain, right, on crutches.

A naval aviator, John McCain was stationed aboard the USS Forrestal where, on July 29, 1967, he escaped death when a missile accidentally launched across the ship, striking John McCain's A-4 Skyhawk. The impact ruptured the fuel tank on McCain's aircraft, the leaking fuel of which ignited, and knocked a bomb into the fire. John McCain escaped from his jet by climbing out of the cockpit, walking down to the nose of the plane, and jumping off the nose boom. A minute and a half after the impact, the bomb exploded underneath McCain's plane, starting a major fire which killed 134 sailors and nearly threatened to destroy the ship.

Later in 1967, he was shot down over Vietnam, and was held as a prisoner of war in Hanoi for five-and-a-half years. When his captors discovered he was the son and grandson of admirals, he was offered a chance to go home, but he refused to break the military code that POWs are released in the order that they are captured.

He was finally released from captivity in 1973, having survived the injuries he received when he was shot down, the beatings from an angry crowd and his captors, a year of torture, and two years of solitary confinement. Once released, his POW injuries prevented him from receiving a sea command, so in 1977, he became a Navy's liaison to the Senate. He was discharged from the Navy in 1981 as a Captain, on the day he watched his father buried next to his grandfather, in Arlington National Cemetery. During his military career he received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Flying Cross. Deciding years later to not live with hatred in his heart, he forgave his captors for his treatment.

Political career

McCain was elected as an Arizona representative to the United States House of Representatives in 1982. In 1986, upon Barry Goldwater's retirement, he was elected to the United States Senate, partially financed by Charles Keating, who had also contributed to his House campaigns. McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal may have led to his later support of campaign finance reform.

Race for President 2000

In 1997, TIME magazine named him as one of the "25 Most Influential People in America." His best-selling book, Faith of my Fathers (1999, ISBN 0375501916), helped propel his presidential run. McCain ran in the 2000 presidential Republican primary, winning in New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont. He lost the nomination to George W. Bush.

Campaign finance reform

One of McCain's main passions in his national political career has been the topic of campaign finance reform. In spite of voting against such measures initially, since 1992, McCain has repeatedly tried to pass legislation regulating campaign financing, finally achieving a major victory in 2002. That year, Congress passed a key campaign finance reform bill, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, co-sponsored by Senator Russ Feingold and hence also known as the McCain-Feingold bill. It was immediately challenged on constitutional grounds, but was narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court on December 10, 2003, in an expedited hearing and ruling.

Political views

McCain doesn't fit neatly into any political wing. He is conservative on many military and social issues, but more liberal on fiscal issues. He once fought against funding the construction of a new aircraft carrier, saying the money should be spent on the 12,000 families of the enlisted who were on food stamps. He is strongly pro-life and equally strongly against tobacco. His appeal during the 2000 presidential campaign was based on his honesty, style and personal image rather than any label of liberal or conservative. Because of this, some of his supporters have encouraged him to seek offices, including the presidency, and he has been suggested as a Republican Presidential possibility in the 2008 election.

In 2004, the idea of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry naming McCain as his vice-presidential nominee was floated. Many political pundits in the United States, especially those who support the Democratic Party, supported the idea, but McCain remained supportive of the Republican Party. Kerry eventually chose fellow Democratic Senator (and primary opponent) John Edwards. McCain and Kerry remain good friends.

Because of his quick temper and independence in the Senate, he is sometimes called a "maverick senator." He fights against pork barrel spending and supports expanded legislation on health care and education. McCain was principally responsible for forcing a re-evaluation of the USAF KC-767 leasing contract. He criticized the Pentagon several times, also about troop strength in Iraq. [1]

McCain lives with his second wife Cindy, chair of the large Anheuser-Busch beer and liquor distributor Hensley Distributing founded by her father, [2] in Phoenix. He has seven children and four grandchildren.

McCain's father was involved in the investigations (some say coverups) that followed the Israeli attack on USS Liberty.[3]


  • Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life by John McCain, Mark Salter (Random House, April 2004) ISBN 1400060303
  • Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shay , Max Cleland, John S. McCain (Scribner, November 2002) ISBN 0743211561
  • Worth the Fighting for: A Memoir by John McCain, Mark Salter (Random House, September 2002) ISBN 0375505423
  • Unfinished Business: Afghanistan, the Middle East and Beyond--Defusing the Dangers That Threaten America's Security by Harlan Ullman , John S. McCain (Citadel Press, June 2002) ISBN 0806524316
  • Faith of My Fathers by John McCain, Mark Salter (Random House, August 1999) ISBN 0375501916
  • The Reminiscences of Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., U.S. Navy (retired) by John S. McCain (U.S. Naval Institute, 1999) ISBN B0006RY8ZK

External links

  • John McCain's Senate website .
  • John McCain at the NNDB
  • Arizona Republic's Seven Chapter Special on John McCain, 1999

|- |width="30%" align="center"|Preceded by:
John Jacob Rhodes |width="40%" align="center"|United States Representative from Arizona
1983–1987 |width="30%" align="center"|Succeeded by:
John Jacob Rhodes III |- |width="30%" align="center"|Preceded by:
Barry Goldwater|width="40%" align="center"|United States Senator from Arizona
1987– |width="30%" align="center"|Succeeded by:
Current incumbent

Last updated: 02-07-2005 06:05:13
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55